grassy knoll

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grassy knoll

Post by JerrySmile » Fri Jul 18, 2014 2:39 am

Hello, everyone,

I'd appreciate comments as to the origins and connotations of the "grassy knoll." I'm aware of both the JFK and the sexual/slang links, so I wonder how old is it? Was it "revived" after the JFK assassination?

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When Couric asked about rumors that a dispute with her former deputy, Dean Baquet, who succeeded her as executive editor, contributed to her firing, she balked. “Now we’re really in the grassy knoll, Katie, and I don’t want to go in there with you,” she said. She said she doesn’t want to contribute to the “endless speculation” about what ended her 11-year run at the Times.

http://news.yahoo.com/katie-couric-inte ... 01462.html
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Thanks.
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Re: grassy knoll

Post by Phil White » Fri Jul 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Can't say very much except that I was completely unaware of any idiomatic meaning, and I suspect that that applies to most Brits. It is a small hill with grass on. Period. No conspiracy, no sexual connotation. In this literal meaning, I would expect it to be pretty old, but Ken is your man.

Until today, I would have been completely flummoxed by your example.

This article appears to clear up the issue of the first literal use in the context of JFK.

As far as the idiomatic meanings are concerned, it's over to Ken.
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Re: grassy knoll

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:34 am

.. Jerry I see nothing unusual in the knoll of grassy knoll ..
knoll (n.) Old English cnoll "hilltop, small hill, clod, ball," related to Old Norse knollr "hilltop;" German knolle "clod, lump;" Dutch knol "turnip," nol "a hill." (Online etymology)
KNOLL, n. noll. The top or crown of a hill; but more generally, a little round hill or mount; a small elevation of earth. (Webster's Dictionary 1828)
Knoll (?), n. [AS. cnoll; akin to G. knolle, knollen, clod, lump, knob, bunch, OD. knolle ball, bunch, Sw. knöl, Dan. knold.] A little round hill; a mound; a small elevation of earth; the top or crown of a hill. (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1913)
.. and so it continues up to the present .. nothing unusual but it is not unusual for a term to be invested with extra meaning when it is becomes part of a wider term that has garnered a specialist meaning >> hence the infamous grassy knoll .. only famous because of the connection with JFK .. this is defined ..
grassy knoll
A metaphor and a source of irony when referring to a suspicion, conspiracy, or a cover-up of some type.
You'll find all your answers on the grassy knoll. (Urban Dictionary)
.. this usage is also confirmed on Wikipedia ..
Because of persistent debate, answered and unanswered questions, and conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination and the possible related role of the grassy knoll, the term "grassy knoll" has come to also be a modern slang expression indicating suspicion, conspiracy, or a cover-up.
.. Phil's link establishes who said what to whom and when .. but as I see it if that phrase was used in this type of emergency then it must have been in fairly accessible semantic use at the time .. under stress we tend to revert to our basic language ..

.. as to how far back it goes ?? .. I would take a guess at a long time given its etymology .. but stranger things have been known to happen .. but not this time ..

WoZ cutting the grass
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Re: grassy knoll

Post by JerrySmile » Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:37 am

Well, thanks, everybody. Surely, "grassy knolls" have existed for ever in sweet nature:)

I was interested more in figurative idiomatic usages. To some extent, the JFK-related meaning is a figurative one, IMO.

You may want to look at the at the sexual meanings here. I, for one, wondered if Chaucer went there.
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Re: grassy knoll

Post by Phil White » Sun Jul 20, 2014 4:11 pm

The Google Ngram shows no hits at all prior to 1800, which surprises me. Usage peaks in the 1870s, declines again until 1963, when it rises sharply until around 1967. It then starts rising again in around 1989.

As I say, I was unaware of any sexual connotation and don't specifically remember the collocation from my studies from Beowulf onwards (mind you, much has escaped through the leaks in my forgetory since then). The word "knoll" itself has survived pretty well unchanged in meaning since the OE "cnoll". "Grass" also dates back that far (in the form "græs"), whereas "grassy" appears to date to the 15th century or so.
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Re: grassy knoll

Post by JerrySmile » Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:38 pm

> forgetory

Great stuff :-)
Thanks a lot, Phil.
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End of topic.
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